Back in the day when Heavy Metal singer Alice Cooper sang “School’s Out” it was a reason to celebrate.
When Governor Roy Cooper, no relation we hope, announced Monday that school doors will be closed to students until May 15, the mood was less than celebratory in Perquimans County.
“I would say school closures are definitely devastating to most students,” said Celia Manning, a student at Perquimans Middle School. “It’s sad that we are missing formal and possibly 8th-grade graduation. It’s also hard on students who play sports and participate in other after school activities. Plus, our spring musical was cancelled and we were really looking forward to performing. Of course, not being able to see friends face-to-face is hard as well. While we can video chat and text each other, it’s boring not seeing friends in person.”
Superintendent Tanya Turner said based on the governor’s plans last week to close the schools, she is not surprised that the date was extended past the two-week window of March 30. She said Perquimans schools are prepared for the days and weeks to come.
“I am optimistic in the Perquimans County Schools staff and their commitment to our students and community,” she said. “I believe that they will do everything in their power to continue teaching and learning to the best of their abilities. This is a huge shift in our current vision of education and there will be an adjustment period for teachers, students, and families. However, I am confident that we can overcome the challenge and work together to make the best out of this situation.”
Turner said unless the governor’s orders dictate otherwise, the school system will continue to feed its students.
“This is an essential service to our community and rewarding to our staff,” she said. “Our school nutrition and transportation departments have been superheroes in this effort. I am thankful that we are able to provide this service.”
Teaching classes can be a challenge on any given day, but imagine teaching music – band – via video conference; now that’s something. Still, Pirates’ top notch Band Director Evan Copeland is up to the task.
“Teaching band virtually is definitely a challenge, but I have one main goal,” he said. “I want them to play everyday. I have assignments I have sent home, but with the extension announced, I will be sending home some fun music for the kids to work on in addition with that 1 goal. Play everyday. Music is a honed skill that is only refined through practice and performance. Unfortunately the performance aspect is not a possibility for the time being. For any of my kids reading the paper, go practice!”
As to planning for milestones like prom and graduation, Turner said it is too early to throw in the chips, call it a game.
“I think it is too early to begin talking about cancelling big events such as graduation and discussing how this will impact our seniors,” she said. “There are so many unknowns that we cannot even begin to talk about or discuss without further guidance from the state. I will continue to remain hopeful we will be able to return to school on May 18 and provide our seniors the graduation ceremony they deserve.”
Pirates’ senior Carlton Baker wants to wear his graduation gown and turn the tassel on his mortar board.
“I really hope we have a commencement,” he said. “I have waited 13 years for this moment and I know my family has, so I hope that there are plans in place that if we can’t graduate in June that we do get to have a ceremony. Graduating from high school is a special moment in everyone’s life and we deserve to have a ceremony to celebrate all our accomplishments through the years of school.”
Pirates’ junior Natalie Corprew hates the time lost for seniors, who are worried about graduation.
“These are events so special to them that got taken away just like that,” she said. “Graduation is up in the air. Being a junior marshal was a special privilege for myself and some of my classmates, too. My heart hurts for the seniors if we won’t be able to have these milestones.”
A top student, Corprew is supposed to attend Governor’s School in the summer but she admits that it’s not looking too promising. Still, it takes more than the coronavirus to dim Corprew’s spirits.
“Despite all of the negatives that seem to be dragging people down, I’m trying to focus on the positives such enjoying family time and operating at a slower pace,” she said.
A top Pirates’ athlete with plans to attend Wesleyan College in the fall, Sai Veon Skinner said he’s disappointed that schools are closing for such a long period of time.
“Not being able to see the majority of my friends is a bit heartbreaking because I find most of my happiness through my friends, teachers, and classmates,” he said. “It’s also difficult for me and my senior classmates to give up our spring season of sports, which many have been looking forward to. I know transitioning to online school will be different for a lot of students and sometimes difficult to keep up with. I’m certainly upset that school is closing until May but it is definitely the right decision under the circumstances.”